I periodically review my daily routine (as much routine that I can afford) and examine how I can be more efficient given the current goals and demands in front of me. Sometimes I realize ways that I can tweak what I do to be more effective. Other times, I realize that I may have abandoned best practices (e.g., scheduled time to check e-mails)to go back to easier habits. Nonetheless, I realize certain practices will help anyone to focus effectively and save valuable time and energy. Certain practices include:
1. Taking a moment to ease into the day by centering. When we take time to center ourselves through meditation, prayer, being still, it gives us time to find peace in the moment, recalibrate our spiritual selves and attempt to align our spiritual selves in a positive way with what we will do for the day.
2. Carving out 30 minutesEVERY DAY TO review the current day achievements, identify what was expected to get done but hasn’t and plan effectively for the next day. Steven Covey calls this time “Sharpening the Saw.” That is to take some time strategize your life, versus just doing in automatic mode.
3. This 30 minutes will allow time to prioritize and focus on what is most important for the next day, Steven Covey calls these areas of important focus, “Big Rock.” Sure, we all have about 20 things that we need to get done in a day. However, there are 1-3, that are going to make the difference in our lives, whether they get completed or not. Identify what those big rocks are going to be for you the next day. What is going to wake you up? This helps you to easily organize your time appropriately and invigorate you with focused energy.
4. Limiting e-mail checks to 3x a day. I know that we all are busy and it may not be possible to only check your e-mail once a day. However, if it is possible at all, limit your e-mail checking from 1-3x daily. I am currently aiming to check my e-mails at 6am, 1130am and 4pm eastern (in case you e-mail me from another time zone J. This allows me focus my time deeply on important efforts/ big rocks instead of juggling my energy and attention back and forth like a yo- yo. When you are aimed at creating innovative work, it is important to focus and go deep into your work without tedious distractions.
5. Outsource your appointment setting. If you have a personal assistant, great. If not use an online calendar, like calendly to save time planning meetings.
6. Make sure that you get some “release” time in the day. For me, this is a physical workout. I take an outside run, do the elliptical machine in the gym or dance. Everyday, we all face tensions, whether we realize them or not. We need to make an effort to release these tensions in the appropriate way for ourselves. For me, its important to sweat out the negative toxins that come from a traffic jam, negative person, busy schedule or other source.
7. Let go of what others can do close to, just as well or better than you. There are specific gifts and roles that God has given you. If you value your unique gifts then give away as much of other tasks that could be someone else’s gift. Allow them to grow as you grow. This applies to leaders and direct reports or entrepreneurs. Focus on your best gifts to make them brighter and let go of the rest.
Ihope these seven practices are helpful. If so, please share them with others.